School Uniform Policy

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green 3:15, 6 December 2021

T5. Miss Woods asked the Minister of Education to outline the powers that her Department has over school uniform policy in schools in Northern Ireland. (AQT 1875/17-22)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question. As the Member will be aware, that is a very live issue and is very much in focus, particularly coming towards the start of the new term. My Department issues guidance to schools and will advise on making sure that all uniforms are accessible to pupils.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Minister for her answer. Saturday week ago, I attended the Northern Ireland Youth Forum's Have Your Say Day on education, where we heard directly from young people about uniform policy and about their not having the choice to wear trousers and being forced to wear skirts, for example. Will the Minister commit to ensuring that student voices are heard and that pupils have an active part in the creation of school uniform guidance in schools?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question. As she will be aware, my Department has now agreed the terms of reference for a review of school uniforms, particularly around the grants but also on its policy aspects. We will take cognisance, probably, of changes that have taken place across the water. As the Member will be aware, school councils now also have quite a considerable input into school uniforms, including on their design, and boards of governors can be more or less responsive to that.

The voices of young people are important. In the review, the views of parents and young people will be taken into consideration